Jimmie was honest, he was trying to face the facts as he saw them; and when he stopped to think, when he remembered the things he had done in company with “Wild Bill” and “Strawberry” Curran and “Flathead Joe” and “Chuck” Peterson, he could not deny that he had been, however unintentionally, helping the Kaiser to win the war. In his arguments with others, Jimmie dared not tell all he knew about such matters; so, when he argued with himself, his conscience was troubled, and doubt gnawed at his soul. Suppose it were true, as Comrade Dr. Service had tried to prove to him, that a victory for the Kaiser would mean that America would have to spend the next twenty or thirty years getting ready for the next war? Might it not then be better to forego revolutionary agitation for a while, until the Kaiser had been put out of business?
There were not a few Socialists who argued this way—men who had been active in the movement and had possessed Jimmie’s regard before the war. Now they denounced the St. Louis resolution—the “majority report” as it was called. When this report was carried in referendum by a vote of something like eight to one, these comrades withdrew from the party, and some of them bitterly attacked their former friends. Such utterances were taken up by the capitalist press; and this made Jimmie Higgins indignant. A fine lot of Socialists, to quit the ship in the hour of peril! Renegades, Jimmie called them, and compared them with Judas Iscariot and Benedict Arnold and such-like celebrities of past ages. They, being exactly the same sort of folk as Jimmie, answered by calling Jimmie a pro-German and a traitor; which did not make it easier to persuade Jimmie to listen to their arguments. So both sides became blinded with anger, forgetting about the facts in the case, and thinking only of punishing a hated antagonist.
All over the country now men were sending their sons to the training-camps, and putting their money into “liberty-bonds”. So they were in no mood to listen to argument—they would fly into a rage at the least hint that the cause in which they were making sacrifices was not a perfectly just and righteous cause. There was an organization called the “People’s Council for Peace and Democracy”, which attempted to hold a national convention; the gathering was broken up by mobs, and the delegates went wandering over the country, trying in vain to get together. The mayor of Chicago gave them permission to meet in that city, but the governor of the state sent troops to prevent it! You see, the people of the country had learned all about the organization for which Jerry Coleman had been working—“Labour’s National Peace Council”; and here was another organization, bearing practically the same name, and carrying on an agitation which seemed the same to the average man. The distinction between hired treason and super-idealism was far too subtle for the people to draw in a time of such peril.